By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper 8/2008
To: All new employees
From: Computer Help Desk Department
Re: Some helpful tips to make your life easier
Dear new employee,
Welcome to the company! As a new team member, please know that we, the computer help desk department, are here as your dedicated personal servants, 24/7. The following are some helpful tips to make communication with the computer help desk as efficient as possible. Please note that each of these is based on real life experience we’ve had with previous users, and this list is constantly updated with absolutely no end in sight, ever.
First off, immediately after sending us an email, please walk to our desk and ask us if we received it. This newfangled “electronic mail” is still unproven, unreliable technology so it’s best to always double check with us that we received your message.
On a related note, please ignore all emails from us. Emails such as “The system will be down for maintenance at 4pm” will only confuse you and deprive you of the opportunity to come to our desk or call after 4pm to ask why the system is down and you were not told. Likewise, if we send out a notice that you should not open a certain email because it contains a deadly virus it, feel free to challenge our expertise and open it anyway.
If we don’t get to your request — and resolve it — within five minutes, be sure to follow up immediately by phone and in person. We’re much more productive when someone hovers over our shoulder.
Please do not read a manual or introductory guide to any software or hardware product, especially if you are asked to do so as part of your job. We love answering the same questions repeatedly, especially from the same person. It makes us feel needed.
Don’t ever be specific about a problem. If you tell us your network interface isn’t working or Microsoft Excel crashes, where is our challenge? How can we be motivated when you’ve already told us what the issue is? Just say the “Internet is broken” and we’ll get right on your problem.
Remember that everything on a computer is related. If you, say, change a font size in a word document, that action can obviously crash the network in Virginia a week later. No conclusion is too silly to jump to — if you can’t get to MySpace and you noticed that we were changing a toner cartridge on a printer a week earlier, be sure to ask if the two events are related.
When we try to explain that we do not know the answer to your question, but refer you to the person who does know, please don’t go to that person. Please ask us the same question in a different way. It’s so much fun to keep repeating, “I don’t know the answer, but Bill does and you should talk to him,” that we can hardly contain ourselves.
Never, ever take the time to back up anything. It’s just paranoia. Rest assured we can find the eleven page document you think was named something like “Doc? Or something?” that you wrote, “Sometime between three days and a month ago?”
If we’re on the phone on a work call, please stand by our desk and hover, no matter how long we talk or how busy we are.
Speaking of phones, when using conference calling equipment, please TALK AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE. The people you are speaking with are far away — sometimes in other states — and this helps get the signal through. The same goes for your cell phone. The speaker part is little — YELL into it to make sure you can be heard.
Speaking of communication please be sure to have as many hallway meetings near our desks as possible. Never use a conference room. Stand as close as you can so we can hear you. And know that we care about YOU too, so once your hallway meeting about company business is over and the social conversation has begun, please don’t walk away. We’re dying to know what your children are up to, what you think of last night’s game, your latest fishing trip, medical procedure, etc.
Speaking of your children, if one of them crashes your home, non-business computer, be sure to bring it in for us to fix. We love that and we’ve got nothing but time.
In the spirit of empowerment, know that YOU matter and your question about not being able to get to eBay is far more important than the monthly report to the division manager, so be sure to just come up to our desk, and sit on its edge and ask for our help. We love that. Our desk is your desk, friend.
Finally, even if you know about a problem all day, please wait until 10 minutes to the close of business to inform anyone, or better yet, send an email just before you leave, marked URGENT. It’s far more fun to try to triage a problem when most people have gone home and we’re exhausted. That way, we can work on your problem all night and have a solution when you come in early the next morning at 10:30.
Again, welcome to the company, and please remember to delete this email without reading it.